Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 27, 2016)
With 2016’s Mother’s Day, a noteworthy career comes to an end. Less than three months after the film’s release, director Garry Marshall passed away at the age of 81. That meant Marshall’s first film in five years would also become his last.
Given how much fine material Marshall created over the decades, I hoped Mother’s Day would end his career on a high note. A spiritual sequel to 2010’s Valentine’s Day and 2011’s New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day offers an ensemble piece that focuses on a few different families.
Divorcee Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) lives with her two sons Peter (Brandon Spink) and Mikey (Caleb Brown). Her husband Henry (Tim Olyphant) recently married a much younger woman (Shay Mitchell), and this upsets Sandy’s emotional apple cart.
Caucasian Jesse (Kate Hudson) is married to Indian-American Russell (Aasif Mandvi), and when her mother Flo (Margo Martindale) finds out, she doesn’t feel happy about this circumstance. Miranda (Julia Roberts) got pregnant young and gave up the baby to focus on her career as a writer. A surprise occurs when her now-adult child (Britt Robertson) seeks her birth mother.
Finally, Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) lost his wife recently. The widower tries to cope with his and parent his two girls Rachel (Jessi Case) and Vicky (Ella Anderson). He attempts to deal with Mother’s Day for the first time after the death of his spouse.
During his TV career, Marshall worked on a bunch of great series. Even if he’d done nothing other than The Odd Couple, he’d be aces in my book, but add to that Happy Days and other works, he winds up as a legend.
Marshall’s movie career seems spottier. Marshall enjoys one borderline classic via 1990’s Pretty Woman but has gave us dodgier efforts the rest of the time.
Unfortunately, Mother’s Day fails to finish Marshall’s career on a positive note. A “jack of all trades” movie, it includes so many characters and plots that it fails develop any of them in an even mildly satisfying manner.
With so little time per character, people speak in exposition and never feel real. They’re cardboard cutouts who talk about their “issues” in a stiff, unrealistic manner.
We do find a great cast, but all seem to be on cruise control. No one seems to put real effort into their roles, though I can’t blame them due to the thin nature of the characters.
Man, are these simplistic personalities! We follow the fairly easy lives of beautiful people, as the film attempts to find drama where little really seems to exist. It stretches and strains to make things “difficult” for people who appear to have few actual challenges.
All of this seems stale and trite, without much flow. The movie flits randomly from one character bit to another without real logic or connection.
This leaves Mother’s Day as a slow, uninvolving dud. The movie wastes talent in front of and behind the camera to create a tale without humor, charm or emotion. Little more than a collection of expositional moments and silly comedic bits, the film bombs.
Footnote: a small tag appears after the end credits.